SNF Pick: Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
Seattle Seahawks (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, December 8, 2019 at 8:20PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Point Spread: SEA -1/LAR +1 (Intertops)
Over/Under Total: 48
The Seattle Seahawks come to the Coliseum on Sunday for an NFC West showdown with the Los Angeles Rams. Playoff ramifications are abounding, as the Seahawks look to solidify their standing, while the Rams are trying to fight their way into the NFC Wild Card picture. With a 34-7 win over the Cardinals last week, perhaps the Rams have found a higher gear as they look to make a little run. But the Seahawks keep winning, coming off a MNF triumph over the Vikings, 37-30. Who can get it done in this high-stakes faceoff in the City of Angels?
The First Act
Considering all the different manifestations of the Rams this season, the first game in week five may offer some insight, but falls short of a reliable barometer for how this will play out. A 30-29 Seattle win at CenturyLink was punctuated by Russell Wilson’s late drive, which gave the Seahawks the close win. Wilson took advantage of the Rams to the tune of 4 TD throws on 17-for-23 passing, with Chris Carson over 100 on the ground. We see a stiffer Rams’ defense lately, and at home, maybe they can do better. Jared Goff, who looked good last week, was able to light up a dicey Seattle secondary for 395 yards, with Todd Gurley running for two scores. We could see a similar offensively-geared showdown in LA this week.
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Tougher Spot for the Seahawks or Rams?
Despite a general feeling that the Seahawks have overachieved, while the Rams have underachieved this season, it is actually the Rams who have a better record against the spread. Seattle is good form at 10-2, with some big wins over good teams like the Niners and Vikes. With five wins in a row and 8 in their last 9, it’s hard to take them to task for much. Still, with issues on defense like an inconsistently-applied pass rush and a secondary that can be run past, it’s not going to be easy on the road against a team that has already shown they can exploit that. On top of that, you have a Rams team that is really playing for their season. Not to undersell the Seahawks’ motivation, as the difference between being in the top two seeds and being on the road as a wild card team is a lot to play for. Still, the urgency is ratcheted up for the Rams.
It’s just so hard to peg the Rams this season. Just as they appear to be regaining their prior form, they come crashing down to earth. Still, they’re catching Seattle on the short week coming off a tough game, whereas the Rams cruised into the winner’s circle last week. A win over the Cardinals doesn’t cure all their problems or make anyone forget the 45-6 loss the previous week to Baltimore. But against a team they came close to beating, with a “D” that has generally been better and now at home, it’s either now or never for the Rams to score a win that suggests they may still be in it.
Rams Ready to Make a Run?
We might not see the same offense we saw last season or at least not as consistently, but some things shake out to suggest we’ll see the best version of the Rams we can get. Goff is getting some pieces back, with Brandin Cooks resurfacing last week. Against this Seattle secondary, having such a plethora of viable targets, all with different proportions and skills, can really pay off, with Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Gerald Everett, and Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee, who both had huge games on Sunday. Todd Gurley is showing some livelier legs lately, and that can also pay off against Seattle, as it did in game one.
Since the first game where the Rams lost by a point, we’ve seen a lot of growth on the defensive side of the ball. It has allowed the Rams to win four of six and stay vaguely in the mix, even if their offense hasn’t always cooperated. If you remove the debacle against Baltimore, the Rams have allowed a total of 51 points in their last five games. That average figures to go up this week, but this is still a much better unit than what Seattle saw earlier in the season, while Seattle’s defense is more or less the same. Aaron Donald, Dexter Fowler, Michael Brockers, and Clay Matthews should be able to apply some pressure, while a secondary increasing in stoutness that can make plays should make an imprint. Other than Baltimore, who has made a lot of defense look bad this season, they have been good against the run and curbing that part of Seattle’s offense could make all the difference.
Possible Edges for Seattle
It’s only right to acknowledge the drawbacks of taking the Rams this week. At root, you have a Seattle team extracting a lot out of what it has and making the best of their situation. In contrast, it is a Rams team that was a leading conference frontrunner now facing a steep road to the postseason. Positive recent signs aside, Seattle is who they wanted to be this season, while the Rams were not. The Rams defense has been a lot better, but less so against offenses like Seattle’s, an offense that thrived against this team before. And while the Rams have shown they can take it to a dicey Seattle defense, how reliable has that offense been this season, especially when you were counting on it to be good?
Take the Home Dog
While the Rams have bizarrely delivered well from a betting standpoint, expecting them to be near their peak has been costly in spots this season. It also seems like there are a lot of games where going against Seattle makes more sense on paper than what we see on the field. I just see this road-showdown for Seattle being a potential letdown spot, or at the very least, a game where they might not be quite at their peak. With the stakes high and their “D” playing a lot better, I see the Rams eking out the cover at home. I’ll take the Rams.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Los Angeles Rams plus one point.
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